Congress Moves Forward With Plan To Make Universities Copyright Cops
from the first-ISPs,-then-colleges dept
For a little over a year, there have been stories about how the entertainment industry has been pressuring Congress to make universities responsible for stopping copyright infringement on their network. This got a lot of attention late last year when Congress tried to tie such a mandate to a provision granting financial aid to students. In other words, the threat was that if universities didn’t act to stop file sharing, their students wouldn’t be eligible for financial aid. This got plenty of attention, and the bill never passed. The most interesting part of it, though, was that much of the reasoning for the bill was driven by MPAA claims that 44% of all illegal file sharing took place on college campuses.
There was just one problem with that: the number was completely wrong. Earlier this year, the MPAA admitted that it had made a small mistake, and the number was actually something like 15% (and even that could be argued).
You might think that would allow our Congressional representatives to focus their attention on something a bit more important — but with super low approval ratings, the people they actually represent matter a lot less than their biggest campaign donors. So, of course, the bill to turn universities into copyright cops is back once again. It is somewhat toned down, but will still require universities to basically be the mouthpieces of the entertainment industry, repeating their propaganda and ignoring that the problem is the industry’s obsolete business models rather than any legal issue.
However, as you read William Patry’s post on this above, you see that the MPAA is also positioning the legislative history on the law so that next year or so, they’ll be able to come back and insist on mandatory filters at universities. Basically, it looks like the MPAA tried to bite off too big of a chunk when it pushed for this law last year, so this year, it’s taking half a bite, but getting everything ready to get the rest of what it wants next year.